Not sure of all the details yet, but the UK Companies House (the business registration system in the UK) shows that System1 Director Michael Blend was appointed director of Waterfox on December 13, 2019. Alex Kontos, founder and former 'person with significant control' (over 75% ownership) stepped down as director the same day. Waterfox was here for customisations and speed, with a good level of privacy.' According to Kontos, Waterfox is meant to strike a balance between respecting privacy and not impeding the web's usability. This is reportedly not changing following its acquisition by System1. Kontos concluded his announcement post with this statement.
We’re excited to announce that we have acquired the web browser, Waterfox, which is known for its customizability and for being privacy-friendly.
Over the past few years, there has been an increased need for privacy tools and services. While there were many great products on the market, many of these are run by smaller teams that lack the resources to heavily invest in their products. Also, many of these products offered standalone features that did not offer a complete experience.
System1 is trying to change all that and put together a suite of products that gives users a more comprehensive privacy-friendly experience. We are doing that via internally-developed products and also by working with great founders who have long experience building and bringing products to market. Waterfox is a great addition to these efforts.
Alex Kontos founded Waterfox in 2011 when he was a 16-year old student. Waterfox is based on Mozilla’s Firefox open-source platform, and was one of the first widely distributed 64-Bit browsers on the web. The Waterfox browser works similarly to Mozilla Firefox; however, it does not collect any user data and is highly customizable. Waterfox quickly gained a loyal following and is often listed as one of the best browsers for privacy and security.
We’re thrilled to have Alex join System1. We got to know Alex through our relationship as a search partner for Waterfox. He is a passionate entrepreneur, and he’s built a great product. System1 approached Alex to acquire Waterfox, and our promise to him was that we could provide much-needed resources to further build upon and market Waterfox to a broader audience, while maintaining the aspects that Waterfox is known for. We will honor that promise to him and the Waterfox community, as we have done with our investment in Startpage.
Alex will continue to drive product strategy, only now he has resources to hire a team and build an even better product. By leveraging the System1 engineering resources, Alex will be able to roll out more features, more quickly, while maintaining the Waterfox commitment to its users.
Waterfox has sold to System1, the same company with a holding group with a majority stake in Startpage. System1 is a consumer internet and applications company with the most powerful audience expansion platform in the industry. As one of the largest purchasers of digital advertising in the world, we are redefining user acquisition through paid marketing and are able to attract new audiences at scale for our properties and our partners. What people need to understand is that they can't keep the old firefox and get the latest performance and security features. Either you keep a monolith of code, where add-ons and site share the same code and they mess each other or get a threaded firefox, isolated add-ons, process isolation, rust in.
We acknowledge the concerns that the privacy community has regarding our ownership and that there could be skepticism over our commitment to these products. We faced similar concerns over our investment in Startpage, the world’s most private search engine. We hope to continue to earn the confidence of the Startpage and Waterfox communities and prove that we are fully aligned with the founders of these products in what made them special in the first place.
System1 is actively building a suite of privacy-friendly products, including search engines, browsers and mapping, and we are very excited to provide these products to millions of users worldwide.
Waterfox Sold To System1